I have to admit, I’ve been a little anxious about publishing my first Freedom Project post. For the last week, my thoughts have circled in my mind like hungry-birds, diving recklessly and greedily, hovering over the one question: How to start? Says the teeming flock: “I don’t want to set a precedent that this blog is frivolous/extreme/self-righteous/unserious/too serious.” They cry, fearfully: “I’ve built this all up too much; maybe I should give up; what if I’m NOT serious enough?; What if my friends/family/colleagues/potential employers read the blog and think that I am crazy?”
Then, I realized: this project is supposed to be about freedom, not anxiety. I thought about the reason I wanted to begin this project, which was to commit my self and my soul to a personal quest based in everyday action. I want this project to stem organically from my daily living, and my hope is that the blog and the project will fuel one another through the inspiration of individual action and sharing those actions with like-minded people. I do not want it to be an obligation, a source of stress or any sort of yoke on my already precarious attempts at balancing the personal and public aspects of my life.
While the project may sound like a huge philosophical and spiritual quest, it is essentially about two things: food and community. The real inspiration for this blog is my childhood, where I first learned the significance of these values.
I am very fortunate that I was raised by parents who understood the importance of nourishing their children by cultivating a connection to nature and the people around us. It would be easy to peg my mom as the gardener, and my dad as the people person, but that is far too simple a generalization. I am simply grateful to both of them for doing whatever they needed to do, individually and together, to offer my sisters and I lives that began, just as some of the greatest stories ever told, in an abundant and peaceful garden.
If nothing else in my childhood was harmonious at times, the garden was a place of peace, nourishment and imagination. Up until the age of 12, when circumstances prevented it from continuing as I knew it. The garden has cropped up (excuse the pun) in many manifestations since then, though it has never been quite as glorious.
This project is really, at its heart, an attempt to cultivate peace, nourishment and imagination in my adult life, in my own way. I certainly face different and more substantial obstacles now, so things will go a little bit differently. Ok, a lot differently. First of all, I have to accept that it is up to me to do all of the work. Sure, I will sometimes have the help of family and friends, but if this is going to work, I have to take responsibility for it.
The essence of responsibility, I believe, is action.
So, this is where it all begins, with one simple action. I will leave you today with one simple thing, in the spirit of food and community. You may laugh as its simplicity, after such lengthy rambling and time-traveling back to childhood, but here it is:
Today, I am making homemade vegetable stock from leftover vegetable scraps. The vegetables were not (yet) from my own garden. They were purchased from a farm stand on the island where I live. That is the all-important food aspect of this action. Food health and security are essential to my idea of freedom, and you will hear a lot more on these topics in future posts. The community aspect of this action is the source of its inspiration, which is my good friend Tara, a.k.a. springboots. She posted a recipe for this homemade vegetable stock, which she, in turn, inherited from her sister.
I have since made several batches of stock from veggie scraps that would have been thrown away (because I have not yet started my compost in my new abode). Each batch is lovely nourishing dose of nostalgia for recent meals. My last batch was a little bitter from winter veg like cabbage, beets and turnips and lemony from all the lemons we enjoyed over the holidays. It was also pink from the beets! Delightful.
So, as I write this, there is a giant vat of nostalgia steeping on my stovetop, and I am feeling grateful that this one simple action can have the power to remind me of my most important values.
Has a recent action in your life reminded you of your core values? I would love to hear about it, and I’m sure my new readers would, too. Comment below or email me at email@example.com